ORGANIC FOOD = GOOD; ORGANIC GROWTH = BAD

The removal of organic growth from chimney systems is critical when it comes to preventing water damage and extending the serviceable life of chimney infrastructure. In the wet climate of the Pacific Northwest, this is especially pertinent.

During a recent inspection in Bellingham, I came across a chimney system with extensive organic growth. In this case, I recommended improving the system with a masonry sealant/water repellent, once organic growth had been removed.  There are differing industry opinions about waterproofing masonry elements; some contractors argue that applying a sealant can make the issue worse and lead to masonry damage, others say that it’s absolutely necessary to prevent water damage.  At a minimum, in my opinion, it’s imperative to keep moss growth maintained and prevent its growth on expensive masonry elements which can lead to costly repairs down the road.  

Check out the video below to see how one chimney sweep company uses a waterproofing agent to protect chimney systems. Thanks for watching!

Do you have questions or comments about home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

STANDALONE SATURDAYS: ON GOLDEN POND

On Saturdays throughout the year, I hope to give you a peek of what I see as a home inspector traveling around San Juan, Island, Whatcom, and Skagit counties through photos and videos I’ve taken along the way.

I’m sure if you know or live in Northwest Washington, you probably feel the same about how special it is here. That’s why I invite you to share your Northwest Washington imagery!  Simply take your picture or video showing why you appreciate the region, and tag it with #AllIslandsLife on Twitteror Facebook.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoy!

If you have questions or comments about home inspections in general, tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

Fun Facts Friday

Laughing boosts the immune system, burns calories and reduces stress hormones, making it a very healthy activity.

Scientists found that the most relaxing song ever is “Weightless” by the Marconi Union—it reduced anxiety by 65 percent in the average test subject.

The world’s oldest socks were in fact designed to be worn with sandals. Made in Egypt sometime in the fourth or fifth century, the wool socks have two toes.

3 QUESTIONS: EXTERIOR PAINT WITH STEGMAN PAINTING LLC

Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and the contractors answer them.

This month, we talk exterior paint with David Stegman, Owner of Stegman Painting in Friday Harbor.

Q1: How often is it necessary to paint the home’s exterior? 

“With paint being the most durable of the options for a finish on the typical wood-sided home, you can expect to get eight to 12 years from properly applied quality paint. Higher sheen paints such as a semi-gloss will last a few years longer because some of the sun’s energy is reflected away from the paint. Sun is what most damages a paint, so areas such as fascia board and the sunny sides of buildings will likely wear out first.”

Q2: Caulking often fails. What’s the best quality caulking you recommend for exterior applications?

“Caulking has the number of months it should be good for on the side of the tube. The better caulks are rated for 45 years or more. One of the things I look for is caulk that contains Elastomeric. Elastomeric additives make the caulk very good at expanding and contracting as the building warms and cools.”

Q3: Do you have any pet peeves or advice for our audience about exterior paint issues and maintenance?

“I often hear from homeowners that they have been told they must repaint because they see black and green stains on the walls. Some contractors take advantage of the owner’s lack of understanding that mold and mildew is often the cause of these stains and can be removed with a fungicide or bleach. Often, there is no need to repaint.”

About Stegman Painting

Stegman Painting specializes in interior and exterior paint, stain, and varnish work (including pressure washing) for both residential and commercial properties. The company was started by Bill Stegman and his brother Ernie in 1925. Bill’s son Duane took over when Bill retired and moved the business to Anacortes in 1974. Duane’s son (David) now operates Stegman Painting LLC in Friday Harbor, which serves San Juan County. His sister, Deborah Stegman Steiner, runs Stegman Painting of Anacortes, which serves Skagit County, as well as parts of Whatcom and Island Counties. 

A big “thanks” to David for his responses!

Questions or comments about painting or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

PEANUTS: DELICIOUS SNACK, DECENT CARTOON, TERRIBLE HOME INSULATION IDEA

Did you know you can insulate your home with a lot of unexpected materials? Carpet, curtains, straw, wool, newspaper…there are lots of items that can be used to keep out the elements. Older houses in particular often utilize unusual objects.

With that said, I’m not advocating for homeowners to throw just anything into the attic or between the walls and floors of their homes. What you use will depend on your home’s unique needs, and if insulation materials are fireproof and have been appropriately treated (for issues such as decomposition). 

During a recent inspection in Langley on Whidbey Island. I came across an attic that was unprofessionally and unconventionally insulated with foam packaging materials. I considered this a safety issue because foam “peanuts”—and similar substances—have not been tested, rated or listed for use as insulation in residential structures. Therefore, they are not likely protected against ignition as required by building codes. Packing materials can be quite flammable and emit toxic fumes.  

Do you have questions or comments about insulation or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

STANDALONE SATURDAYS: LOPEZ SUNRISE

Win a $20 Starbuck’s gift card, it’s easy!  Simply take your photos and/or videos, and tag them with #AllIslandsLife on Twitter or Facebook. 

Throughout the year, those who tag with #AllIslandsLife will have a chance to win some fun prizes, such as a $20 gift card to Starbucks (which happens to be this month’s prize yet again)! 

To be eligible for this chance to win a whole lot of caffeine, please tag your imagery by March 24, 2019 (tomorrow!). We’ll announce the winner in the April issue of our new, shiny newsletter, so make sure to subscribe using the signup form below.

Subscribe to the All Islands Argus Newsletter

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View previous campaigns.

Do you have questions or comments about home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

UH OH: YOUR ELECTRICAL PANEL IS NAKED!

I think this goes without saying, but you really need to make sure your electrical panels have fully installed cover fronts. When I say fully installed, I mean that all the appropriate fasteners are in place and the front is secure. 

And when I say appropriate fasteners, I mean screws that are not sharp—which can potentially pierce underlying wiring. 

And when I say potentially…I’m just kidding. No more italics

So, what if you don’t have a panel cover front in the first place? This is a scenario I recently came across recently during an inspection in Mount Vernon. 

Obviously, if the circuits, circuit breakers, conductors, and other fun stuff are exposed to the world, you are inviting trouble to the party. 

And trouble is a terrible guest. 

The takeaway? Get your panel a cover, pronto!

Do you have questions or comments about electrical issues or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

MORE IS BETTER RIGHT? NOT WHEN IT COMES TO GOLF SCORES & VAPOR BARRIERS

Vapor barriers are ideal for reducing/limiting moisture in the ground from evaporating and migrating up into the crawl space. This helps to prevent problems that arise when moisture condenses on cold surfaces, such as ductwork and wood. 

Unless you enjoy hearing phrases such as wood rot, mold and mildew, you’d be well-advised to use a vapor barrier. The takeaway? A vapor barrier is a good idea.

But what about vapor barriers? As in multiple barriers being used at the same time? Do you get extra credit if you use more?

Nope. 

In fact, I recently came across a crawl space in which two vapor barriers were installed in the crawl space. In my report, I wrote that the use of two vapor barriers actually causes problems because water can become entrapped between vapor barrier layers, prolonging evaporation time which can lead to stagnant water conditions. 

In other words, one barrier is more than enough.

Do you have questions or comments about vapor barriers, crawl spaces or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

STANDALONE SATURDAYS: FENCE ON A HILL

Win a $20 Starbuck’s gift card, it’s easy!  Simply take your photos and/or videos, and tag them with #AllIslandsLife on Twitter or Facebook. 

Throughout the year, those who tag with #AllIslandsLife will have a chance to win some fun prizes, such as a $20 gift card to Starbucks (which happens to be this month’s prize yet again)! 

To be eligible for this chance to win a whole lot of caffeine, please tag your imagery by March 24, 2019. We’ll announce the winner in the March issue of our new, shiny newsletter, so make sure to subscribe using the signup form below.

Subscribe to the All Islands Argus Newsletter

* indicates required
Email Format

View previous campaigns.

Do you have questions or comments about home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).